MANATEE -- With the recent construction of Nathan Benderson rowing facility and its hosting of the 2017 World Rowing Championship, crew is becoming more prevalent in Manatee County.
Manatee County Youth Rowing, a high school and middle school team, has taken home two state championship trophies in 2015 alone.
Despite having organized teams for only a little more than five years old, Manatee County has managed to be competitive with teams that have been around three to five times as long.
It used to be limited to Palmetto, Manatee and Southeast high schools, but MCYR is now open to all middle and high schoolers in Manatee County.
The diverse team of students maintains this mantra: "One Team, One Effort."
Rowing, a full-body workout, is just as tough on the mind as it is on the body.
MCYR is helpful to the community as well.
Athletes volunteer every year at the Parrish Chili Cookoff, and take on other projects such as the Cure Search Walk for Childhood Cancer. They also run for causes such as the YMCA or Arthritis Foundation.
They hold a summer camp for middle and high schoolers
every summer called "Long Skinny Boat Camp" and put it on using only coaches and athletes.
After each practice, the rowing athletes devote time to cleaning up Fort Hamer Park.
Even at races, MCYR athletes not competing will volunteer to help keep the event running smoothly.
Amber Davis, Cameron Evans, and Erin Fenske, all seniors at Southeast High School, are team co-captains.
"Rowing is important to community because it teaches you more than what the average sport would," says Davis, "Sure, you learn time management, but you get other important job skills by working with people you wouldn't normally find yourself working with. It teaches you how to take responsibility for yourself and never give up on the people helped you improve yourself."
Coach Trish Jackson keeps the athletes in tip-top shape with military-style calisthenics, runs, weight workouts, and weekly fitness tests on the rowing machine, the ergometer.
On Oct 17, the athletes competed in their first competition at the Gatorhead Regatta in Gainesville against 14 other crews in 10 different events. MCYR brought home several medals, including a Novice Women's event and a Women's Varsity 4-plus, which includes four rowers plus one coxswain in a boat.
Cassidy Myers, Journalism Next contributor, attends Manatee High School.